Extra Tickets Just Released for First Thought Talks at GIAF21

5 September 2021

Extra tickets available here from Monday 6 September at 12 noon

Exploring everything from cyber-hacking, to the impact of remote working on rural Ireland, to vaccine development


Each year Galway International Arts Festival hosts an acclaimed and eclectic discussion series - First Thought. The topics are wide ranging and include voices from across the world, leaders in their field. Encouraging debate and discussion, this year topics will range from cyber-hacking, to the impact of remote working on rural Ireland, to vaccine development and much more.

Each conversation will be an in-person event, at NUI Galway for a limited in person audience (in line with the Covid-19 regulations) but will also be recorded and made available on the GIAF online platforms at a later date. The Festival is working once again with historian and broadcaster Catriona Crowe to curate the First Thought Talks programme.

Guests including Misha Glenny, Bonnie Greer, Siobhan Burke, Sinéad Burke, Dr Mike Ryan, Fintan O Toole, Pete Lunn, Teresa Lambe, John Gerrard, Noelle Brown, Maeve O’Rourke, Conall O’Fatharta, Caelainn Hogan, Brian O’Gallchoir, Roisin Ingle, Katie Hannon, Sarah McInerney, Paul Cullen, Rory Monaghan.

The 2021 Vinyl Hours series will also return this September and will see guests Philip King, Sinéad Burke, Niamh Regan and Brian Kerr, reveal their most treasured songs in special in-conversation events with Tiernan Henry. Each conversation will be for a limited in person audience at NUI Galway in September but will also made available on the First Thought podcast across September and October.

Dates: Philip King Saturday 4 September, 2pm / Sinéad Burke Saturday 11 September, 5pm / Brian Kerr Saturday 11 September, 8pm / Niamh Regan Saturday 18 September, 6pm

First Thought details and dates. All Talks will be recorded and released on Galway International Arts Festival's YouTube channel:

  • Backlisted John Mitchinson, Andy Miller, Mary McGill and Mary Costello

The popular UK–based book podcast comes to Galway. Co–hosted by author Andy Miller and publisher John Mitchinson, its tone is erudite, warm and enthusiastic. Novelist Mary Costello and novelist and broadcaster Mary McGill will join to discuss an old Irish book whose title will be announced in the coming weeks.

10 September, 6pm - in person O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway. Available online at a later date.

  • Mother and Baby Homes Noelle Brown, Maeve O’Rourke, Conall O’Fatharta and Caelainn Hogan in conversation with Catriona Crowe

The publication of the report of the Commission on Mother and Baby Homes in January produced a storm of controversy, distress and anger among survivors. Survivors, advocates, lawyers, journalists and writers have succeeded in drawing public attention to the report’s deficiencies. Some of them will be at First Thought to discuss them.

11 September, 11.30am – in person O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway. Available online at a later date.

  • Tilting the Lens Sinéad Burke

Sinéad Burke is a writer, educator and disability advocate. Through her company, Tilting the Lens, Sinéad works towards accelerating systemic change within the domains of education and design, by focusing on accessibility as a vehicle for creativity, innovation and social justice, on which she will speak.

11 September, 2pm – in person O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway. Available online at a later date.

  • Will Remote Working Change Rural Ireland? Tomás O’Siocháin, John Evoy, Valerie Mulvin and Professor Alma McCarthy. Moderated by Sarah McInerney.

One of the most momentous effects of COVID-19 was the move to remote working on the part of large numbers of people in Ireland. Could this become a more permanent change, and lead to the revitalisation of parts of rural Ireland currently in decline? Four experts in the subject discuss.

11 September, 6pm – in person O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway. Available online at a later date.

  • Where is Ireland with Renewable Energy? Brian O’Gallchoir in conversation with Rory Monaghan, NUIG

Michael McDowell has recently claimed in The Irish Times that those proposing supremacy of renewable energy in Ireland are ‘pursuing irreconcilable goals’. Is he right, or are we on the cusp of a renewable energy revolution here? Brian O’Gallchoir, Director of the MaREI Institute in Cork, will bring us right up to date on Ireland’s renewable energy capacity, both now and into the future.

12 September, 11.30am – in person O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway. Available online at a later date.

  • What Were We Like in the Pandemic? Pete Lunn in conversation with Katie Hannon

Pete Lunn, head of the ESRI’s Behavioural Research Unit and advisor to NPHET, has been telling us fascinating things about our behaviour during the pandemic for the last year and a half. Were we compliant with regulations or willing to break them? How did we compare to other countries?

12 September, 2pm – in person O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway. Available online at a later date.

  • Who Are These Guys? Cyberhacking Misha Glenny in conversation with Fintan O’Toole

Misha Glenny’s book, DarkMarket: Cyberthieves, Cybercops and You, educated us about the forces behind attacks such as the recent one on the HSE. He is the acknowledged expert on the Dark Web. In the 1990s, he was the brilliant chronicler of the Balkan wars and his book on global organised crime, McMafia, was adapted as a very successful TV series.

12 September, 4pm – in person O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway. Available online at a later date.

  • The Irishman at the WHO, Dr. Mike Ryan in conversation with Paul Cullen

Mike Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme, has been one of the most influential and recognisable people giving us advice about how to protect ourselves from the Covid 19 virus. An expert in communicable diseases, he has been a crucial part of the global response to the virus, continually emphasising vaccine justice and the need to vaccinate everyone on the planet. His reassuring, if tough, interventions made us all feel we could trust him to tell us the truth about this once in a lifetime threat to the world. He will be interviewed by Paul Cullen, health correspondent for the Irish Times.

Mike Ryan will participate in this event via video.

18 September, 6pm – O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway. Available online at a later date.

  • How a Pandemic Will Allow Us to be Healthier in the Future? Professor Abhay Pandit

The past year has seen extraordinary advances and unprecedented collaboration between community, clinicians, researchers and industry in the world of medical technology to find urgent solutions to global healthcare problems. Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, will reflect on the opportunities that have arisen from the pandemic which will advance our ability to improve the quality of life for people living with chronic illness on a global scale.

18 September, 11.30am – in person O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway. Available online at a later date.

  • The Ethical Vaccine Dr. Teresa Lambe, in conversation with Paul Cullen Health Editor of the Irish Times

The Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine,remove comma was the only one where a guarantee was given by the makers to keep it at cost price to make it affordable and available to people around the world. Irishwoman Dr. Teresa Lambe was one of the team which created the vaccine and will tell of that experience, and the ethical principles which underpin the distribution of the vaccine.

18 September, 2pm – in person O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway. Available online at a later date.

  • Bonnie Greer, Honorary Irishwoman in conversation with Róisín Ingle

When Bonnie Greer gave her characteristically forthright and eloquent opinion on British post–Brexit dealings with Ireland on the BBC in 2019 – ‘Don’t mess with them’ – she became a national figure here. A conversation not to be missed with the American–British playwright, novelist, critic and broadcaster who has been a distinguished commentator on the arts, on heritage, on education, on race, on feminism, on gender and politics.

18 September, 4pm – in person O’Donoghue Theatre, NUI Galway. Available online at a later date.

To book tickets and find more information go to giaf.ie